Niagara Gazette

Sports

February 1, 2013

Loyola makes final MAAC trip to NU

Niagara Gazette — Jimmy Patsos took his team to visit Niagara Falls on Friday, an off day tradition for the Loyola Greyhounds during their annual "Buffalo trip" to play Canisius and Niagara.

It's uncertain if or when that tradition will continue.

The grand realignment in college sports hit the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference last summer when Loyola announced it was leaving for the Patriot League following this academic year.

The Greyhounds, who joined the MAAC in 1989 with Niagara, Canisius, and Siena, will be the first team to leave the men's basketball league since LaSalle in 1992.

The MAAC has already chosen Quinnipiac and Monmouth to fill the void left by Loyola, but it will be hard for the new schools to replace the tradition and competition the Greyhounds provided, and nearly impossible for them to replace the animated and outspoken Patsos.

"It's very bittersweet," Patsos said this week. "The Patriot League is a great league for Loyola University, but the MAAC was also a great league for us. Our commissioner, Rich Ensor, has done an amazing job."

"I hate seeing them go," said Niagara coach Joe Mihalich, who has been coaching in the MAAC since its inception in 1983, first as a LaSalle assistant. "They were a perfect fit for our league."

Patsos said a stronger academic reputation, easier travel, closer rivals, and better competition in some non-revenue sports made the Patriot League a better fit for Loyola, even if the conference is generally rated lower than the MAAC in men's basketball.

Boston University will also be joining the Patriot League, which currently consists of American, Bucknell, Colgate, Lafayette, Lehigh, Navy and former MAAC members Holy Cross and Army.

"It is an honor to join the Patriot League's distinguished member institutions, all of which consistently demonstrate a profound commitment to excellence both in the classroom and on the field," said the Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J., Loyola's president, in a news release. "That commitment is one we share at Loyola, and we see this move as a vital opportunity to continue to elevate our already outstanding athletics programs in keeping with our goal of becoming the nation's leading Catholic, comprehensive university."

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